(Go! Disks/London; 1994)
In 1994 Bristol, England, became the centre of a growing genre: trip hop. The style became so associated with the city that it came to be known as “the Bristol sound.” The debut album, Dummy, by local trio Portishead further proved that the sprawling urban centre was the true home of trip hop.
The album’s second track, “Sour Times,” showcases the slow, driving backbeats, mixing of samples and a reserved pace that gives the genre its defining sound. Beth Gibbons’ sultry smooth vocals seep through the mix to add elegance and warmth to the occasionally cold mechanical beats.
“Glory Box” caps off the album and is the most recognized Portishead single to grace Dummy. The track begins with a fade in of sweeping strings sampled from Isaac Hayes’ “Ike’s Rap II.” A slow methodical drumbeat soon joins in and Gibbons’ delivers a stunning performance that at times teeters on heartbreaking.
Since the release of Dummy, Portishead has gone on to release two full-length albums and one live recording. Each is a reminder that Portishead has yet to run out of talent.
Trial Track: “Glory Box”